Category Archives: Athens Georgia

Losing my Athens, Georgia

Ever since I found out last week that Junkman’s Daughter’s Brother in Athens is closing, I have been listening to R.E.M.’s Out of Time and feeling that lovely combination of nostalgic and depressed, which is a little weird because R.E.M. actually predates my time in Athens. Nonetheless, I did spend four years trying to spot Michael Stipe around town and was the only one of my friends that never did. Very disappointing because I had the perfect line to approach him since my initials at the time were R.E.M. He would have been charmed, I’m sure.

courtesy theredandblack.com
Junkman’s Daughter’s Brother courtesy theredandblack.com

Another significant Athens business closing? I really can’t take it. I’ve yet to recover from the loss of the greatest coffee shop I’ve ever known and the hits just keep on coming. I know everyone thinks their era was the best, but I can assure you, it was all about 1998-2002.

Blue Sky. Oh, Blue Sky. Admittedly your Mocha Freezes weren’t always consistent, but the way we’d smell after studying there for a few hours sure was. The walls were always covered in original art that ranged from amazing to downright terrifying at times. I was there to hate on the new Starbucks when it showed up next door and while all the silly freshman who didn’t know any better trekked into that corporate box, we Blue Sky patrons packed the house and basked in the comfort of knowing we were better and smarter. Sometime after I graduated, you decided to expand and serve alcohol in addition to being a coffee shop. My heart sank a little as you betrayed your true calling, and soon you were gone from us forever.

courtesy cooltownstudios.com
courtesy cooltownstudios.com

Mexicali. You were basic, standard Mexican food and almost fully staffed by students, or at least people in that age range. You were so busy that a portion of your staff was dedicated to “chipping.” Yes, just making sure the tables had chips. But you left it to your young staff to make the pitchers of margarita instead of using professional bartenders. And for that, your hammered patrons thanked you.

courtesy jrheimbach http://photos.igougo.com/restaurant-photos-b147629-Athens-Mexicali_Grille.html
courtesy jrheimbach http://photos.igougo.com/restaurant-photos-b147629-Athens-Mexicali_Grille.html

Caliente Cab, you were awesome outdoor eating. Incredible Cuban sandwiches and we could bring our own booze or run into the gas station next door. I hear you may still exist in some form somewhere else, but I don’t have to go to know it’s not the same.

One the location of Caliente Cab. courtesy flagpole.com
Once the location of Caliente Cab. courtesy flagpole.com

One of my favorite freshman memories is of the 80s disco at Georgia Theatre. It was from 2 am to 4 am on the weekends after concerts cleared out. On those rare occasions we weren’t in the mood to go out at our usual hour of 11 pm, we’d set our alarms, take a nap and wake up at 1 and get ready. Then came the new closing time ordinance. Might as well have become that little town in Footloose the way it hurt so bad to lose our weekly dose of Prince and Michael Jackson. Of course, Georgia Theatre isn’t actually gone, despite a major fire that gutted it in 2009. But it’s all clean and colorful outside now which makes me fear that the interior no longer properly reeks of stale beer or boasts a floor you wouldn’t sit on even if both your legs were broken.

courtesy Brad Kuntz
courtesy Brad Kuntz

Molly O’Shea’s Irish Pub. Your Amaretto Sours live on in my heart.

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The Winery. But NOT the recently closed Broad Street location. I liked you before your plastic surgery makeover — the original and smaller location a couple blocks away. Once you moved to the main street, everyone from Milledge Ave. found you. And ruined you.

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“I think you ladies are in the wrong bar!” was how we were once greeted walking into Lunch Paper, the punk bar. It was understandable confusion since most of us looked like we had walked out of a dressing room at Express or Old Navy. But we still loved you. I even remember how we used to go every Monday to watch the new episode of The Osbournes which you always took care to have on the TV. Kids these days probably don’t know that the first season of that show was super awesome and beloved before the family was crammed down our throats from every conceivable angle and Sharon was on six shows at once (not hating, just saying).

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I didn’t actually realize at the time that Five Star Day Cafe was new when I was a freshman. But damn, fifteen years of that that mac and cheese.

courtesy fivestardaycafe.com
courtesy fivestardaycafe.com

Farewell, Schoolkids Records. Damn you, technology.

courtesy onlineathens.com
courtesy onlineathens.com

Now my guilty pleasure. The place that probably won’t show up on many, okay any, best of Athens lists. AMF or Athens Music Factory came about after I started school with cheap drinks and dancing. You have had about a hundred names — Fifth Quarter before you became AMF, Last Call after. I can’t even find one picture of you online. But you are burned in my memory. Sort of. Actually it’s kind of hazy. You actually sold liquor drinks to minors for a quarter with a fallible wristband system. We saved them all and had every color in our purses ready to go. I don’t know why. I don’t think you really cared. But you did give us Thursday 80s night in a beguiling attempt to fill the hole left by Georgia Theatre.

And oh, what they’ve done to my dorm with their renovations. Those kids. They don’t know the true Myers Hall. The true Myers Hall didn’t have air conditioning or fancy, modern “up to code” features. Reader, you may wonder why I would choose such a dorm. The reason was my inability to read between the lines back in 1998 during my senior year of high school. The other buildings in the community were described in the brochure as having AC, while it was pointed out that Myers housed the air-conditioned computer lab. You see, it did not occur to me — IN 1998 — that a dorm would not have air conditioning. In Georgia. In August. When I discovered my blunder, I waited to be murdered by my friend since 8th grade, Giovana, who was to be my roommate and trusted me to make the decision since she didn’t give a crap and I was obsessed with the matter. Fortunately, she missed all my major arteries and we went on to have two great years there. No AC meant everyone’s door was always open and it attracted an interesting array of people. But these kids now are living in chilly asbestos-free suites, never to know the amazing feeling of kicking your sheets off in the middle of the August night and turning your window fan to high. This generation will be so entitled.

Back of renovated Myers Hall and quad. courtesy collinscoopercarusi.com
Back of renovated Myers Hall and quad. courtesy collinscoopercarusi.com

I guess nothing lasts forever. And sometimes that just sucks.

110922AthensGaPage

So, The Grill, don’t even think about it. Ever. Seriously. My heart couldn’t take it.

courtesy thequickanddirtydirty.com
courtesy thequickanddirtydirty.com

College pics…just cuz.

The Good

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Myers Hall - Fall 1998
Myers Hall – Fall 1998
Myers and the Quad - 1998
Myers and the Quad – 1998
My favorite shot I took of College Ave.
My favorite shot I took of College Ave.
Quad activities!
Quad activities!
Freshman Christmas gift exchange on 4 North.
Freshman Christmas gift exchange on 4 North.
Fries and feta at the Grill.
Fries and feta at the Grill.
Does the hot dog guy still come to campus?
Does the hot dog guy still come to campus?

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The Bad

The day I learned dishwasher soap and dish soap are not interchangeable.
The day I learned dishwasher soap and dish soap are not interchangeable.

And the truly ugly…with some beauty.

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The worst job I ever had.

Bad Parking
Bad Parking (Photo credit: Kevin Baird)

The worst job I ever had was not actually the worst, but it was exceptionally stressful in my 20-year-old mind that cared too much what other people thought.

It was a thankless job — the kind of job you keep a secret. The kind of job you lie about and claim you’ll be busy studying when you’re actually scheduled to work a shift. The kind of job you swear your friends to secrecy about.

Was I a stripper? A drug dealer? An operator of a webcam sex site, as an RA in my dorm community was found out and fired for? Please. All of those are far more socially acceptable on a college campus than what I did.

I worked for parking services.

Yes. I wrote…wait for it…parking tickets!

Potential social suicide, but you try finding a decent part-time job in Athens anywhere near campus when you’re deathly afraid of waiting tables (never been a waitress because I don’t have to try it to know I would suck at it–I’m sorry. I just realized I wasn’t listening when you ordered. What did you want?)

The job was so easy. You were assigned specific lots to monitor and given a handheld device to check plates. I had to make sure the proper parking pass was displayed and then run the plate for other violations if it wasn’t. If the machine barked at me, yes, literally barked, I had to radio my supervisor for a boot. It was great because we were specifically instructed to sit in our cars during class changes. We struck as students were getting their learn on. So suck on that, kids trying to get educated! I never ceased to be amazed how many students were on a first name basis with my supervisor. They’d rack up the tickets, get booted, daddy paid, then get the boot removed. They literally drove themselves door to-door.

My saving grace was that my assigned lots were graduate student and faculty. I did not want to work commuter lots under any circumstance as that was where I was most likely to encounter other undergrads that I might know. Then one day, my supervisor radioed me with a horrifying request that I monitor the commuter lot near North Campus where all the business majors park. In my time at UGA, it seemed like everyone majored in business but me, the journalism major. All my friends parked there, which was fine, because my good friends knew my secret.Problem was, a whole lot of casual friends and acquaintances parked there, too. It was like a stealth operation. During class change, I fought the urge to hide in the trunk and slunk down in my seat. As I made my rounds, I was prepared to throw myself over hoods to go into hiding.

But then I heard it. “Becky? What are you doing? You work for PARKING SERVICES?” Oh, crap. Busted by guy I knew from my dorm days. I saw him quite a bit because he had a crush on one of my friends. I went into my usual ramble for when I would get outed, “Blah blah, never heard back from The Gap blah blah pays more than the library…”

“That’s cool,” he lied. Lied, most likely, because he then pointed out that he wasn’t parked in an actual space. This lot was infamous for filling up quickly and forcing people to trek all the way out to the Ramsey gym lots and take the bus back in. He was worried I would write him a ticket. I assured him I wouldn’t, but I also warned him my shift was almost over and that I couldn’t make promises for what would happen then. He seemed satisfied and went to class.

When I clocked in for my next shift, my supervisor asked me into her office. Turns out jerkface got a ticket later that day. And what did he do? Complained to parking services that I had told him it was okay to park there. I assured her that I warned him he was taking a risk by parking there, and I had not made him any guarantee that he wouldn’t be ticketed. They were actually pretty nice in the department and understood that I wasn’t going to write a ticket on the car of someone I knew, especially face-to-face. But he could have lost me my job telling them I was giving permission to park illegally. I should have let him have it, but the on the few occasions we ran into him downtown, I just ignored him and walked away.

There was a big giant bright side to the job though. Remember how I mentioned I patrolled faculty lots? I had one particular English professor that I hated. She was a writer. A writer from Hah=vahd. She went so far as to let her students know how much better Harvard was than Georgia — then why didn’t they hire you? She was like the female version of the guy in Good Will Hunting that likes apples, but doesn’t get Minnie Driver’s number. She supervised a study abroad program in England I was on in which she asserted her superiority daily in class and scheduled a mandatory activity every Thursday night, even though classes ended early Thursday and we had Fridays free to travel and this prevented anyone from going very far.  Almost two months after we returned, my two roommates and I received an e-mail that the laptop we were assigned was “broken.” It  worked when we turned it in, but now we were expected to pay for it. However, we were not to be defeated in a battle of wits by a professor that was still dumb enough in 2000 to post students’ social security numbers on her door, so once she was directed to contact our lawyer (a roommate’s dad) we never heard another word.

Not long after all this drama, she busted me in the faculty lot she parked in. “Ohhhh, I didn’t know you were a meeeeeeeeter maid,” she sneered in a condescending tone. I just smiled. “You move fast. I think you wrote me a ticket last week. I parked on the lines because I only had to run in for a minute…” I don’t remember what I actually said, I only know that for a few seconds I debated my options. She still had the ticket with her unpaid. I could offer to take it, and possibly get it taken care of. Generally, parking services doesn’t do that, but they might if I explained the awkward position with my professor. But no. The sarcastic “meeeeeeeeter maid” played over in my mind. So I walked away after carefully studying her vehicle. I vowed I would ticket it every opportunity I got (sadly I never got one).

I still take joy in that ticket. It was worth every bit of stress.

Nonetheless, I took a 50 cent pay cut the following year to shelve periodicals at the science library. It took less of an emotional toll.